British student tortured in Brussels by Belgian police, says lawyer

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Elliot MeredithImage source, Elliot Meredith
Image caption,
Elliot Meredith said: "I was sobbing throughout, afraid for my life and fearful of what was coming next."

A lawyer for a British student who claims he was beaten and humiliated by police in Belgium has accused officers of torture.

Elliot Meredith from Cheshire said he thought he was going to die at Saint-Gilles police station in Brussels.

The Belgian prosecutor has opened two investigations - one into the torture allegation - and another into a claim that Mr Meredith assaulted a policeman.

St Gilles, Anderlecht and Forest police would not comment during the inquiry.

Mr Meredith, 21, said he was subjected to two hours of physical and mental attacks, before being forced to give a verbal false confession saying he had pushed an officer.

His lawyer, Zouhaier Chihaoui, said: "I will be making a complaint to the juge d'instruction [magistrate responsible for conducting the investigative hearing that precedes a criminal trial].

"The facts are very serious and I believe they amount to torture."

Image source, Google
Image caption,
Elliot Meredith said officers at Poste de Police Saint Gilles tried to goad him into fighting them

Mr Meredith, from Nantwich, was halfway through a 10-month internship in Brussels as part of his graphic communications degree at Bath Spa University.

He said he was ordering a takeaway after a night out with friends in the early hours of Sunday when police stormed in and "manhandled" him to the floor.

He said he was taken to Poste de Police Saint Gilles.

"I was stood up against the wall with my handcuffs still tightly bound, all five officers then each took it in turn to punch me in my face," he said.

He claimed one officer made him repeat: "I am a little girl, I am a little girl."

He said he was made to kneel in front of five officers while their superior told him if he wrote a statement to say he had assaulted an officer they would stop hitting him.

Mr Meredith's father Chris told the BBC his son was "extremely traumatised".

He said: "We want to prosecute the five officers.

"It was a gross violation of human rights. He was an innocent guy, he's done nothing wrong.

"We're going to take this as far as we can to stop this happening to anyone else."

Jennifer Vanderputten, spokeswoman for the Belgian prosecutor, told La Dernière Heure Mr Meredith was detained during a police intervention for disturbing the peace.

An inquiry has begun into a claim Mr Elliot hit a policeman who was then unable to work for four days, she said.

The prosecutor has been informed by the media of Mr Meredith's claims he was hit and humiliated and an inquiry has been opened into this, she said.

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